Royal Signals H.Q – R-E. 78 Div. C.M.E.

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by Paul Dorrell, Jan 31, 2020.

  1. Paul Dorrell

    Paul Dorrell Member

    My late uncle was a signalman in Sicily in 1943. On a letter home he gave the above as his return address along, of course, with is name, rank and number, as shown in the topic title panel above..

    Royal Signals H.Q is pretty straightforward. R-E I guess means Royal Engineers? I presume he was attached to 78th Division as a signaller, but what was C.M.E please? From this address can anyone say where he was actually based in Sicily please?

  2. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    For definitive proof of his postings you really need to have sight of his service record so you can access a unit war diary and establish the desired location.

    Requests for personal data and service records: a detailed guide

    As Royal Engineers managed the Army Post Office system during WW2 what you have may just be a central Postal address from where post was sent on to the actual location of the soldier.

    Your CME is more likely CMF = Central Mediterranean Force.

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
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  3. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Do you know if your uncle stayed with 78 Inf Div throughout their epic journey through Italy?


  4. hutt

    hutt Member

    A quick search at Kew suggests there may be around half a dozen '78 Division' signals diaries so there could well be something to explore there. You will need to have his records to be sure it was worth the effort. As Steve says, CME is most likely CMF. The diaries may well contain the precise details of where they went and when. He could of course been in a unit or Regiment under 78th Division, hence the value of the records from the MOD.
  5. Paul Dorrell

    Paul Dorrell Member

    Thank you all for your replies. I have requested his service records Steve, and am awaiting their arrival. I hope that they have survived. At present Frank everything I know of his time in the Army is contained in that return address. He had typed the letter home so the C.M.E or C.M.F question is not down to unclear handwriting but I suppose it might be a typo. If his typing skills were anything like mine are it probably was. Thanks for the information about the diaries IAZ. Once I've heard from the people in Glasgow it may well be worth a trip to Kew - I guess I'll just have to wait and see what turns up

  6. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    C.M.E. is also used for Commander / Chief (of) Mechanical Engineers - and by extension his staff, and also College of Mechanical (or Military) Engineering - though this is more likely if the soldier is in the U.K.

    Have to see the records.
  7. Paul Dorrell

    Paul Dorrell Member

    Thanks Charley - you're right I will need to see the records. But as my uncle was in Sicily when he wrote home I have a feeling that the "Commander Mechanical Engineers" is the tight interpretation. Thanks for getting in touch.

  8. Paul Dorrell

    Paul Dorrell Member

    See what I mean about typos - not tight … right.

  9. ploughman

    ploughman Junior Member

    If it was the RE College then the abbreviation would be RSME Royal School of Military Engineering.
    There were overseas establishments besides Chatham and Chattenden.

    As far as I am aware the overall Chief Royal Engineer was known as the CRE.
    Would REME have a similar overall commander then CME may be appropriate?
  10. Noel Burgess

    Noel Burgess Senior Member

    I believe the title for the head of REME in a higher formation was Director of Mechanical Engineering (DME))
  11. Paul Dorrell

    Paul Dorrell Member

    While waiting for my uncle's service records to arrive I've been doing a lot of Googling and have come across the Canadian Military Engineers who were in Sicily as part of the Canadian element of the British forces. Is it possible that a Royal Corp of Signals chap attached to 78 Div could have been on detachment to the C.M.E. ? Or am I clutching at straws?

  12. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    I think you are clutching at straws :banghead:

    Canadian Corps would likely have a Royal prefix so RCME or RCAMC, RCA...etc....there was a Royal Canadian Corps of Signals of course.

    Patience is a virtue......all will be revealed when his papers arrive....everything else until then is speculation.....informed or otherwise.

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  13. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist

    Just found this thread.
    My late father was 34 Heavy Wireless Section R. Sigs, attached to 36 Bde in the Battleaxe Div. Think I'm right in saying he was L of C Sigs, as I know he was on Pantelleria.
    Other places I know he was stationed were Bougie, Algiers, Setif, Tunis, Brindisi and Caserta Palace. Keep meaning to hunt down the relevant war diaries when finances allow.
  14. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Caserta Palace:
    The very first hit: Palace of Caserta | War Traveller

    From a lady: BBC - WW2 People's War - Caserta Headquarters

    Setif an Algerian city is infamous for a colonial massacre after an uprising, but it appears the RAF used the airfield there for 1943-1945. See: RAF Maintenance Unit 162 based at Setif and Blida 1943-5

    Google indicates there were British Army units there.

    Bougie and Setif are referred to in a US document as housing the British LoC HQ till 1st January 1943, when Allied Forces HQ took over (see pg. 88):
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
  15. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist

    Thanks David.
    Dad came ashore at Bougie (or rather swam) after his troopship was sunk. Forget the name.
    In Setif he became friendly with a local family, I still have photos of them. The stepson was a sergeant in the 3rd Regiment Tirailleur Algerien who were actually based in Constantine. He was actually caught up in the aftermath of that massacre, and shortly afterwards the unit was sent to Indochina. He passed away ten-twelve years ago apparently.
    Tried to trace the daughter a few years ago, but she and her stepmum apparently moved to Paris around 1961, and the relative I corresponded with hadn't had contact since.
    Got a couple of general photos of Caserta, and a list dad wrote of the guys who were in his unit, but don't know if it's wartime or just before he got demobbed.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2020
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  16. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    All noted. Sounds like the family your father knew were French, possibly Pied Noirs, who left Algeria when it got independence.

    Setif is the city where a post-VE-Day march by Algerians became a riot and massacre of Europeans over five days, with one hundred dead. US forces were still present locally and Andrew Hussey wrote:
    The French military and I suspect civilians killed six thousand Muslims over the next few weeks.
    From pgs. 152-156 in 'The French Intifada: The Long War between France and Its Arabs' by Andrew Hussey, pub. 2014

    Also: Sétif and Guelma massacre - Wikipedia

    Hussey also refers to a 1942 incident, in another city Philippeville, where US troops had stopped French African troops firing on mass violence, in which thirty locals died.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
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  17. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist

    Yeah, Pieds Noir. The father was the local blacksmith; got photos of his house in the street that's now called Rue Du 8 Mai, I think. The stepson had been captured in France, then escaped to Algeria.
    Dad was always grateful he was long gone by the time it all kicked off.
    My profile pic of dad was taken in Setif in December '42.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2020

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